Fire near Jerusalem forces village evacuations

Residents of several villages on the outskirts of Jerusalem were evacuated on Sunday because of a large forest fire nearby, Israeli police said. Firemen supported by firefighting aircraft were working to extinguish the blaze as the smoke blotted out the sky across much of the city. A spokesman for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said he had held a special meeting with security officials. The fire threatened the villages of Beit Meir, Shoeva, Kissalon, Guvat Yearim and Ramat Raziel west of Jerusalem, police said in a statement. The villages lie close to the main highway linking the city with Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv. Residents were evacuated and several roads were blocked, the police added. “This is one of the biggest fires in the Jerusalem area in years,” Nissim Touitou, the region’s fire chief, told a televised news conference. Earlier, a spokesman for the Jerusalem fire service said strong winds were fanning the flames and called on firefighters from several regions to assist. A fire that broke out in the same area over a week ago had been quickly brought under control. The cause of Sunday’s fire was not yet known. Yitzhak Ravitz, the mayor of Kyriat Yearim near the affected villages, told public radio his “town’s doors are open … to all families needing protection”. Several other Mediterranean countries have seen forest fires amid soaring temperatures in recent weeks, including Greece, Turkey and Algeria. Forest fires rage in northern Morocco Rabat (AFP) Aug 15, 2021 – Firefighters in northern Morocco are battling to put out two forest blazes, a forestries official said Sunday as the North African kingdom swelters in a heatwave. “Non-stop efforts are underway to control the fires which broke out on Saturday afternoon,” said Rachid El-Anzi, director of the water and forestry department in the Chefchaouen region. He said firefighting planes were being used to tackle the conflagrations which had already destroyed some 200 hectares (500 acres) of forest. Several parts of the North African kingdom have seen temperatures of up to 49 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit), according to weather authorities. “There have been no victims, as priority has been given to preventing fires approaching residential areas,” El-Anzi said. He said the cause of the fires was not known, but that they had been spurred by high temperatures and strong winds, which are expected to last into Monday. Morocco joins several other Mediterranean countries that have seen forest fires in recent weeks, including neighbouring Algeria where at least 90 people were killed in wildfires last week. Firefighters in Algeria still at work to extinguish 19 blazes Algiers (AFP) Aug 15, 2021 – Algerian firefighters were still struggling Sunday to put out 19 blazes in the north of the country, where 90 people were killed in wildfires this week. A statement from the emergency services said its teams were trying to extinguish 19 fires in 10 provinces. It said six blazes were still raging in Bejaia, three in El Tarf and two in Tizi Ouzou, the worst-hit province where entire villages were destroyed. The government has blamed arsonists and a blistering heatwave for dozens of blazes that have raged across the country’s north since Monday, but experts have also criticised authorities for failing to prepare for the annual phenomenon. The fires have killed 90 people, including 33 soldiers, according to reports from local authorities. Algeria is Africa’s biggest country by surface area, and although much of the interior is desert, the country’s north has over four million hectares (10 million acres) of forest, which is hit every summer by fires. Last year some 44,000 hectares went up in flames.,50635181.html,50635117.html
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